A Meeting of Minds: An Interview with On Landscape's Tim Parkin
Posted: 13 Dec 2018
On 2nd - 4th November 2018, we supported On Landscape’s third conference, A Meeting of Minds, at the Rheged Centre on the edge of the Lake District by printing the exhibition. We spoke to Tim Parkin, editor of On Landscape magazine, about the event and how it acted as the perfect environment for the photography community to meet and exchange ideas and the role print can play in bringing people together at an event.
“The A Meeting of Minds conference started as an idea,” says Tim Parkin, editor of On Landscape magazine. “I wanted to see a community event for landscape photographers which gives a voice to peers who are doing something interesting. As we were in a position to make this happen, and it fitted well with the magazine, we thought we’d give a go to create an event that did just this.”
About the conference
Part of On Landscape’s vision for the conference was to challenge attendees by offering a range of topics in photography, not just in terms of subject matter, but also in terms of approach. “We tried to make the line-up of speakers as diverse as possible, mixing up the representation of the contemporary/academic approach to photography with the more familiar romantic/sublime,” Tim says. Fotospeed photographers, Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite, alongside Foto Fest speaker, Colin Prior were some of the landscape photographers that contributed to the line-up – one that intended to entertain, inform, and challenge delegates through sharing ideas about their craft in person.
The ‘community exhibition’ included not only showcased printed images from the conference speakers, but also from attendees – a decision that was an important element for the event. “Landscape photographers can be a shy bunch sometimes, and so we were trying to think of ways to provoke conversation. And what better way to do this than having each delegate have one of their own images on show?” Tim explains. “Making sure we had large breaks between talks, therefore was a conscious decision,” Tim explains, “as we noticed that at many conferences, a lot of the most enjoyable moments were outside the talks, catching up with old friends, talking to peers, etc.”
However, the exhibition was never intended to be a be prized-based event. “It’s about the conversation and people sharing their ideas and experiences,” Tim says. “If you walked into the exhibition at the conference during the breaks there was a real buzz, and that’s exactly what we wanted – delegates talking to each other about their photography, hunting out other delegates to talk about the images that they liked.” And one observation Tim made this year, compared to the last event was that attendees chose to showcase images that were more personal to them. “There were very few ‘cliché’ or ‘icon’ images which made the exhibition, and conversation, so much more interesting.”
The importance of print in engaging others
The addition of the printed gallery was an element that really boosted the event and created a powerful sense of community ownership from each of the delegates showcasing their own images. “It really helped make the event into a ‘meeting of minds’, rather than the ‘dictat’ from on high’ that some conferences can seem to end up as,” Tim says. And how did the printed photographs have an impact? “The physical presence of a photograph on a wall, especially alongside a collection of other work, changes how we interact with a photograph. No matter how good displays on computers and phones have got, they still haven't surpassed the quality of a good print on quality paper.”
The decision to include the gallery stemmed from the impact Tim believes print has for readers and contributors of On Landscape. “Be it a book or an exhibition, the end goal for the work our readers create involves turning their images into some form of permanent artefact that they can share. Although the sharing of images on social media and via our online portfolios is fantastic, and without it we would see a lot less of others work, being able to physically hold the end product of a person’s project is always a pleasure and to share your own work in this way is even better.”
So, what advice would Tim give to someone looking to put a similar printed exhibition together? “Get Fotospeed to do the printing!” he laughs. “Though seriously, the presentation and quality of the printing was outstanding and the assignment of paper choice to photograph was very nicely done. On a more functional level, having a photograph of the delegate next to the print with a paragraph of narrative about the picture was useful, both in order to help delegates to find the photographer, but to provoke engaging conversation.”
“Overall, the delegates said it was one of the best exhibitions they had been to and to be able to take part in it was the icing on the cake!”
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Find out more about this year’s A Meeting of Minds including the full line-up here.
All images at the exhibition were printed on Fotospeed Signature papers – Platinum Etching 285 // NST Bright White 315 // Cotton Etching 305 // Smooth Cotton 300.
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